View Full Version : Sometimes Older is Wiser

2005-08-14, 17:01
I couldn't wait to get back here and share a little secret I discovered after hiking the LSCT in mid May this year. It was absurdly simple, but it worked wonderfully.

It began with a lunchtime conversation around work. I had my gear in the lunch room and was standing over my gear pile like a fine art critic trying to decide what luxury items I could cut out to reduce my overall weight by 2 lbs. I had been complaining about the sub zero weather and how my clothing amounted to 3 lbs more than I had intended. I was also worried that my sleeping bag was not up to the extreme cold and wind I would be sleeping in.

One of my co-workes, an ex army instructor of survival turns to me and says-
"what you need to do son, is take more clothes off, and not bring your whole wardrobe." He was content with my look of both confusion and skepticism, but I was able to get him to elaborate. He told me about how the army used to make their sleep setup for winter camping in bivy sacks. He claimed that if you stripped down to your underwear, and wrapped yourself in one of those 2 dollar foil space blankets before getting into your sleeping bag, it would make all the difference.

I was doubtful, but it was worth looking into. I bought a space blanket from Canadian Tire ( its like the canadian version of a Walmart type superstore).
I have had a dozen of these things over the years but never actually ever opened and unfolded one. Sure enough right on the instructions, it says that for them to work best, they need to be right against your skin.

3 weeks later....

It is night 2 on the LSCT. It is freezing, bitter, chill you to the core cold.
The wind is off the lake and battering the hammocks around. The previous night I got only an hour or two of sleep. I was huddled in my hammock, wearing every stitch of clothing I had brought, including my rain gear, and the tarp I keep under my hammock to stand on. The wind was so strong I could literally put my hand against the nylon of the HH backpacker and feel the air coming through the weave of the fabric.

I decided for night 2, I had nothing to lose, and tried the space blanket inside the sleeping bag trick. Forgot to mention that I was also using a silk bag liner this year that allegedly raised a bags temp rating 10 deg. I am not sure if it did or not, but it sure felt good to slip into it at the end of the day. The space blanket was loud and extremely awkward to keep wrapped around me. I had to settle for 3/4 of my body covered.

The verdict... incredible! I woke at 4AM to relieve myself and the first thing I noticed was how well it was working. The blanket had worked itself up under me so my feet and legs were partially exposed and I could literally feel the temperature difference from the parts that were in the foil blanket and the parts that were not. I ended up using it every night after on that trip.

Those old army guys really knew what they were talking about. And I didnt have to worry about folding the thing up for storage. They are so cheap you can just buy a new one for each new trip.

The pros: it worked. And it cost 2 dollars. I think I got alot of hrs sleep I would have otherwise been too cold and shivering for.

The cons: it feels terrible against the skin.
they are loud when you move around. my fellow campers
complained that I sounded like an avalance of potato chip bags
when I rolled around.
it is incrediblly awkward to get the space blanket around you,
and then get into your sleeping bag.

Just thought I would share that experience with you. I would really like to come up with a hybrid system. I was wondering if the blanket would still work as well if I kept it on the outside of my silk bag liner. I could at least be more comfortable that way. I even toyed with the idea of trying to make space blanket pajamas. But I don't know much about heat glued seams, and I think they might wear out easily.

It is a project I may attempt and if nothing else, at least get a picture of me field testing a rediculous foil pajama outfit.

2005-08-14, 17:43
I think this (http://mosquitohammock.com/survivalbag.html) will help to keep you completely covered, and be easy to get into/out of. I don't know how loud it is, but I think it can be used inside or outside your bag. I think inside the bag would be easier to keep it in good shape, and to store in while on the trail.

2005-08-14, 18:23
that.... is .... perfect!

Think I will order one right now!

2005-08-15, 01:22

This bag is one of the best out there.

Kind of expensive at roughly $50USD, but easily the warmest "space" product out there.

2005-08-15, 01:55
Turk, you could also try the emergency bivy sack ($20) from Thermolite. (Campmor) I have slept one night in this bag, and it really cut down on the evaporative cooling effect, and would definitely cut the wind which you mentioned. This bag is also very re-useable. $20 bucks, you can't go wrong, heck just add it to your campmor order, what's it going to hurt?

Sgathak, where in the h#ll have you been, Ive been missing your unique sense of humor, and writing style! :biggrin:


2005-08-15, 14:01
Sgathak, where in the h#ll have you been, Ive been missing your unique sense of humor, and writing style!

PM on the way.

2005-08-19, 20:02
That emergency sack is very cool. I wonder how noisy it is. I might pair it with my 20 degreee down bag for this winter.

2005-08-20, 02:30
GregH, the bivy is a "bit" noisy, but different and not as bad as the mylar type, one time use, space blankets. The emergency Bivy finish is as though it has been run thru a dryer or "something", sort of pre-crinkled in all directions reducing that crackling type noise. (am I making any sense?) Not bad, and not much worse than that cold nylon noise I get out of a few of the bags I own.

Maybe we should toss some foam earplugs in with each sleeping bag anyway. I once spent a night on a ridge, where the wind blew so strong all night, that I couldn't get much sleep from all the flapping, and sand and debris burying my tent all night.... I had grit in everything the next morning. What a horrible mess of my gear....

2005-09-13, 19:37
Have a Hennessy Expedition Hammock with Mosquito Jungle Fly. Camped on top of a mountain in the White Mountain Wilderness, NM, this last weekend and was very cold at 48 F with winds at about 50 mph. First night, wind shifted and came right into my hammock. Second night, was mostly at right angle to wind, but had condensation on my CCF pad in the morning and down sleeping bag was moist.

Am looking for a better solution than my CCF pad and space blanket underneath. Have looked at Just Jeff's warmth page and it has many good ideas, but don't have much time to work on a solution myself. So have been looking at commercial solutions. JRB looks great, but very expensive. Speer's new SPE seems simple and cheap, but I worry about condensation with that too. Hennessy's Super Shelter is not inexpensive, but seems simple and straightforward, but I wonder it it will really work in near freezing conditions. Anyone have experience with it???

2005-09-13, 19:41
Have a Hennessy Expedition Hammock with Mosquito Jungle Fly. Camped on top of a mountain in the White Mountain Wilderness, NM, this last weekend and was very cold at 48 F with winds at about 50 mph.

If you want to camp in conditions like this, you are going to have a hard time staying warm in a hammock. The normal keep-warm advice begins with site selection. Pick some place sheltered from the wind.

If you want to camp in 50 mph winds, you might be better off with a tent.